The Backwoods Maze: 2017 Review

The Backwoods, Burbank, CA

Our home haunt journeys continue with a trip to a home haunt that's actually pretty close to Rotten Apple 907, which we visited yesterday.  The Backwoods is an incredibly detailed and unbelievably immersive home haunted attraction that I've wanted to visit for years.  But I've always been unable to check it out because of my own contributions to Higgins Manor.  This year, however, Higgins is on hiatus, and I've been able to take advantage to visit numerous haunts that I've never been able to experience before that are typically open only at the end of the season .

 Curious and mutated creature await those who venture into The Backwoods.

Curious and mutated creature await those who venture into The Backwoods.

Located just north of Rotten Apple and west of the downtown Burbank area, The Backwoods has been offering intense frights for many years.  The haunt features an elaborate yard display out front that features a collection of traditional horror movie icons, plus a literal (and terrifying clown car.  The maze itself is located entirely within the backyard.  Guests enter and exit off the side yard and are allowed in via only small groups at a time.  The route is winding, narrow, and circles back upon itself at is conclusion, but within this seemingly small confine of space, the folks at The Backwoods have packed an exceptionally intricate amount of detail!

 The maze seems to be run by a rather dapper rhino with a bit of an attitude.

The maze seems to be run by a rather dapper rhino with a bit of an attitude.

 Perhaps you're interested in these watches this hare is trying to pawn off?

Perhaps you're interested in these watches this hare is trying to pawn off?

The Backwoods is fortunate enough to be able to keep its maze walls up throughout the year (since it's all on private property and out of sight from neighbors).  As a result, the Gustafson family owners are able to tinker with and accent the layout to their own whim.  And the results have been positively spectacular!  There is no inch of this maze that lacks detail.  The props are often monumental in scale and rival what you'd see at Universal Studios Hollywood or Knott's Scary Farm (and in fact draw a lot of inspiration from old Halloween Haunt mazes).  The lighting and immaculate.  The scenes are fantastically gorgeous.  The sets inspire amazement and disbelief.  How could all of this come from a simple amateur haunt?  (The answer is, of course, that the line between home haunts and pro haunts is hardly clear anymore, and you'll find plenty of home haunts that are actually better quality than some commercial haunted attractions.)

The Backwoods also features an ironically whimiscal soundtrack that has a childlike charm to it--which makes for an especially amusing ambiance when juxtaposed against the perverse and somewhat dystopian imagery and the dynamic scares that the actors project onto guests.  I found myself humming the melody while walking through the maze, even when I was out of speaker earshot.  It's just a spooky earworm!

 Well, I suppose there are worse fates.

Well, I suppose there are worse fates.

 The level of theming in this maze is simply unreal.

The level of theming in this maze is simply unreal.

The talent is also top notch, mixing up scares and hiding places and timing their startles and pop-outs fluidly.  It doesn't hurt that the scenery is so exquisitely beautiful and attention-catching that the maze environment provides a natural distraction to the scares themselves!  In addition to the typical eye-level scares behind corners or through window openings, The Backwoods set also features overhead scaffolding and walkways that enable scares from above and from angles less anticipated.  This adds an addictive and twisted sense of surprise for even veteran haunted house visitors.

 The props and figures look like something straight out of a professional theme park--and not just one of those knockoff theme parks--the originals!

The props and figures look like something straight out of a professional theme park--and not just one of those knockoff theme parks--the originals!

Bar none, The Backwoods is the best home haunt I have ever visited.  This isn't a knock on the rest; this backyard maze is just that good!  As you can see in these photos, the amount of effort put in feels superhuman, and the intricacy of how everything comes together is very impressive.  No wonder this haunt attracts lines that stretch all the way down the street.  The Backwoods is a huge hit each season in the neighborhood, and it provides a delightful sense of Halloween screams for the local community.

 This, as you may recognize, is a maintenance service elevator...

This, as you may recognize, is a maintenance service elevator...

 This, as you may recognize, is a hideous, deformed creature who's clearly been exposed to radiation effects.

This, as you may recognize, is a hideous, deformed creature who's clearly been exposed to radiation effects.

The Backwoods has free admission, though donations are definitely welcome and encouraged.  It is located on 1912 N. Pepper St, Burbank, CA 91505.  It wraps up its season this weekend, with a run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus Halloween night.  Be sure to check out this haunt, even if you're not in the immediate area.  It's one of the top attractions of the season--despite its amateur status--and it should not be missed!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.